Daniel Gross has written an interesting article in the UKs Guardian on why it is more than likely we’ll fail to avert catastrophic climate change:
Why has every attempt to set prices for global carbon emissions failed? The answer can be found in one word: coal – or, rather, the fact that coal is cheap and abundant.
Burning hydrocarbons (natural gas and petrol) yields both water and CO2. By contrast, burning coal yields only C02. Moreover, compared to natural gas and crude oil, coal is much cheaper per ton of CO2 released. This implies that any tax on carbon has a much higher impact on coal than on crude oil (or gas). Owners of coal mines and their clients are, therefore, strongly opposed to any tax on carbon. They constitute a small but well-organised group that wields immense lobbying power to block efforts to limit CO2 emissions by putting a price on them, as the planned US cap-and-trade system would have done.
Gross isn’t optimistic:
A planet composed of nation-states that in turn are dominated by special interest groups does not seem capable of solving this problem. Unfortunately, there is enough cheap coal around to power ever-higher emissions for at least another century. The world will thus certainly become much warmer. The only uncertainty is how much warmer that will be.
Determined action at the global level will become possible only when climate change is no longer some scientific prediction, but a reality that people feel. But, at that point, it will be too late to reverse the impact of decades of excessive emissions. A world incapable of preventing climate change will have to live with it.
But company profits are up.
You win some, you lose some.
[Hat tip Hot-topic.co.nz]